The Life of Josiah Henson
The character Uncle Tom, from Harriet Beecher Stowe's bestselling novel, "Uncle Tom's Cabin," is based on the life of Josiah Henson (1789-1882). Born in Maryland, Henson escaped and fled to Dresden, Ontario, Canada in 1830. In 1841, a group of abolitionists, including Henson, created a community/school for runaway slaves called the British-American Institute for Fugitive Slaves. On the 200 acre parcel, Henson and his friends built a grist mill and a saw mill. After emancipation, many of the former slaves returned to the United States, though Henson remained in Canada until his death in 1882.